The fatal injury to Iceo at Sandown on Saturday took all the gloss from another successful day for Team Ditcheat.
Losing any horse is the hardest part of our sport and Iceo was a star for his enthusiastic owner Chris Giles and shone when winning the Imperial Cup at Sandown in March. We felt he had a big future as a chaser and it was so tough to lose him after he suffered a catastrophic fracture of his front leg in the Henry VIII Chase. It affected everyone involved with Team Ditcheat and put a dampener on the rest of the day.
Talk about the highs and lows of racing. Twenty four hours earlier Chris Giles was on top of the world after his star novice Stay Away Fay won the Grade 2 Betfair Esher Novice Chase from the front in great style. You are a sitting duck when you have to do the donkey work like that but he stayed on strongly when challenged by Giovinco and was in command at the line. The better the race, the stronger the gallop, the more it will suit Stay Away Fay whose jumping was again very good. Two interesting Grade 2 options for him are a £75,000 Novice Chase over three miles at Warwick on January 13 and the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot a month later.
Stay Away Fay’s victory took us past the the £1 million mark for prize money this season with a helpful contribution a little earlier in the afternoon from Insurrection who ran so well when a close second in the Grade 2 novice hurdle over two and a half miles. He was a shade keen and was just outstayed late on.
A four timer on Saturday took our score to 53 winners. First to strike was Liari who again looked very smart with a decisive success in the Class 1 juvenile hurdle at Aintree. He is a gorgeous horse, travelled strongly, jumped like a natural and eased clear in the closing stages. Liari will be even better on drier ground and has a bright future. He will get an entry in the Triumph Hurdle but we have the option instead of taking back to Aintree in April.
Sonigino then completed our double at Aintree with a comfortable success in the two and a half mile Class 2 handicap hurdle. He relished the step back up in trip, cruised through the race and is clearly thriving. The target I have in mind for him next is the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton in January.
At Chepstow Isaac Des Obeaux doubled his score for the season by bolting up under a penalty. He is a three parts brother to Clan Des Obeaux, made all the running and looks every inch an exciting candidate for chasing next season.
The hardy veteran Truckers Lodge then brought up our four timer with a determined performance in the London National at Sandown. The ground can’t be testing enough for Truckers Lodge, an amazing old horse who will soon be twelve, has been in so many battles and has formed a rewarding partnership with his jockey Freddie Gingell who is only a few years older than him. It’s unlikely Truckers Lodge will be returning to Chepstow for another crack at the Coral Welsh National which might come a bit too soon and be too competitive for him. We will look for a suitable target in a few weeks time.
We will have plenty of runners through the week with the good news that Wincanton and Exeter have rescheduled meetings lost to the wet weather. Then we will be concentrating on Cheltenham at the weekend when Monmiral and Il Ridoto are likely to run in the December Gold Cup on Saturday.
For all the latest news on my runners in Friday and Saturday please turn to my Betfair column which goes live the previous day.